Cog Hill still not winning over players

 
 
Updated 9/14/2011 10:39 PM
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  • Phil Mickelson chips to the eighth green Wednesday during the Pro-Am at the BMW Championship golf tournament.

    Phil Mickelson chips to the eighth green Wednesday during the Pro-Am at the BMW Championship golf tournament. associated press

  • Geoff Ogilvy, teeing off on the ninth hole during Wednesday's pro-am, says Cog Hill's Dubsdread does not rank among his favorite courses.

    Geoff Ogilvy, teeing off on the ninth hole during Wednesday's pro-am, says Cog Hill's Dubsdread does not rank among his favorite courses. Associated Press

  • Geoff Ogilvy rakes a bunker on the eighth fairway Wednesday during the Pro-Am at the BMW Championship golf tournament.

    Geoff Ogilvy rakes a bunker on the eighth fairway Wednesday during the Pro-Am at the BMW Championship golf tournament. Associated Press

  • A man walks in the rain Wednesday during the Pro-Am round at the BMW Championship golf tournament on Wednesday.

    A man walks in the rain Wednesday during the Pro-Am round at the BMW Championship golf tournament on Wednesday. Associated Press

Somewhere, the hair on the back of Rees Jones' neck had to be standing at full attention Wednesday afternoon.

That's because Jones, the man in charge of the $5.2 million renovation of Cog Hill's Dubsdread, was in the cross hairs -- yet again -- of several big-name golfers who came out swinging following a soggy Pro-Am tournament in Lemont.

"They need to get their money back," Steve Stricker said. "It's too bad what has happened here."

"You know, there were a lot of other guys to choose from that probably could do the job," Phil Mickelson said. "Maybe if we started over it could turn into something really special."

Ouch.

How about you, Geoff Ogilvy? You're a course aficionado. Does this course rank among your favorites?

"No, it doesn't."

The good news for the folks at Cog Hill is, unlike a year ago following a searing summer, the course is in great shape as it prepares to host the third of four FedExCup playoff events.

Dustin Johnson is the defending champ, and Webb Simpson is the playoff points leader heading into Thursday's opening round.

Last year Stewart Cink famously rated Dubsdread -- especially with its seared greens -- as a minus-3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

That's not the case this year thanks to some mellow late summer weather.

"The condition is much improved; it's a lot better than it was last year," said former Northwestern standout Luke Donald, currently the world's No. 1 player. "The players certainly won't complain about the condition of the course."

"Absolutely, it's in great shape, but that wasn't the gripe," Mickelson said.

Then, what exactly is the beef?

"A great golf course is challenging for the good player but playable for the average player," Mickelson said. "I feel this course is the exact opposite. It's playable for us. But the average guy just can't play it."

Even the best of the best find themselves struggling around the Cog Hill layout, especially on the par 3s and the tricky green complexes.

"I think when conditions get firm some of the hole locations are pretty much impossible to get to," said Stricker, whose second career victory came at Cog Hill.

"To stand back there with a 3-iron in your hand on a par 3 knowing you really can't fire at it … you've got to hit it in the center of the green and then the putting becomes a challenge, too, because on every one of his little cloverleafs there's a mound before going down into the cloverleaf.

"So you send it to the middle of the green -- which is the proper shot because you can't hold it in that little cloverleaf -- and now you've got an up the hill, over the hill, down to a pin location. And every green seems to have that, or a lot of the greens seem to have that."

Unless things change, the pros won't have Cog Hill to kick around much longer. Next year, with the Ryder Cup being in town, the BMW Championship will be played at Crooked Stick in Indiana. And in 2014 it will be played at Cherry Hills.

How about 2013? Well, the players would love to return to Chicago, but where in Chicago is the question.

"I think the Western Golf Association does a great job with events, and obviously BMW has been a great sponsor, and I hope the event continues to be in Chicago," Donald said.

"Obviously next year we'll have a Ryder Cup that will fill the void a little bit, but I think Chicago is one of the best cities in the U.S. I live here because of my enjoyment of the city, and I think it has a lot of great courses to offer, as well."

"This will be the last year we play here," Mickelson said, "so we'll make the best of it and then we'll move on. Hopefully we'll find another course that's a little more suitable here in the future for this tournament."